Association between sleep duration, body mass index and eating behaviour at 5 years old: findings from the ROLO longitudinal study

Type Article

Journal Article


A. Delahunt; A. A. Geraghty; E. C. O. Brien; S. O. Reilly; F. M. McAuliffe

Year of publication



Obesity reviews






INTRODUCTION: The eating patterns and behaviours of a child will influence their body composition. Achieving adequate sleep is another fundamental factor in a child's health, growth and development. Links between inadequate sleep and overweight and obesity in children and adolescence have emerged. This research aims to examine how sleep duration and childhood eating behaviours may affect Body Mass Index (BMI). METHOD: The ROLO study was a randomised controlled trial of a dietary intervention during pregnancy to prevent macrosomia. The ROLO mothers and their children were followed up at multiple timepoints. Only children from the 5‐year follow‐up were included in this analysis Anthropometry was assessed. Eating behaviour was measured using the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire and sleep was assessed using the Child's Sleep Habits Questionnaire. Regression analysis was used to determine associations between sleep duration, BMI and childhood eating behaviours. RESULTS: Three hundred nineteen children were included. BMI distribution was 7.9% within obese range, 15.1% within overweight range, and 77% were in the healthy range. Fifty seven percent of children met sleep recommendations for a 5‐year‐old child (>11 h/night). BMI was negatively associated with sleep duration (p = 0.049), when controlled for birth weight. With longer sleep duration, BMI was lower. Food responsiveness (p = 0.013) and Emotional Overeating (p = 0.028) were negatively associated with sleep duration. The only child feeding behaviour significantly positively associated with BMI was food enjoyment (p = .001). CONCLUSIONS: Our analysis demonstrates that inadequate sleep in 5‐year old's may contribute to an unhealthy BMI. Furthermore, sleep duration may have an impact on emotional overeating and food responsiveness. These preliminary findings warrant further analysis. Exploring the underlying reasons for childhood overweight and obesity is essential in combating global trends.